Heart Month a good time to quit

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 6, 2013

 February is Heart Month in the United States, and there are few ways a person could do something better for his or her heart than to quit smoking.
The disease perhaps most associated with smoking is lung cancer, but the damage smoking can cause to one’s heart is significant. About 20 percent of all deaths from heart disease in the U.S. are directly related to cigarette smoking. Additionally, the risk for coronary heart disease is 25 percent higher in female smokers than in male smokers.
There has never been a better time to quit smoking as the list of places where the habit is tolerated grows shorter and shorter. All places serving food in Louisiana are already smoke free, and a number of bars and music establishments in the New Orleans area have followed suit. Also, each year the Legislature gets closer to passing a law that would ban smoking in bars and casinos. So whereas the habit was once portrayed as a glamorous, social institution, its practice is now mostly relegated to a few souls huddled near the entrance of buildings.
Also, the ways in which one can achieve quitting smoking is growing all the time. Besides the ever-popular nicotine gum route, there are nicotine patches and even prescription pills for those wishing to quit.
Still, Louisiana lags behind the rest of the nation in smoking cessation. More than one quarter of Louisianians smoke compared to about 21 percent nationally.
Although quitting may be one of the more difficult tasks a person can take on, its benefits are both immediate and long lasting. In the short term, heart rate and blood pressure return to normal, and in the long run those who quit smoking reduce their chances of heart attack and stroke, just to name a couple.
And lastly, if you can’t motivate yourself to quit smoking for your own health, think your loved ones. Saving them a broken heart may just be the heart-friendliest thing you can do.